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HP loses appeal in 123inkt case

April 23, 2019

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands.

The OEM has lost its appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court in its lawsuit against Netherlands-based webshop 123inkt.nl, after it claimed that the memory chip on 123inkt’s private-label cartridges infringed one of its patents.

Following previous victories by 123inkt.nl at the District Court of The Hague and the Court of Appeals of The Hague, the Dutch Supreme Court has now also ruled in favour of 123inkt.nl. This judgement finally resolves a patent dispute case that has dragged on for several years.

On 2 December 2014, 123inkt.nl was sued by HP; during the proceedings, the OEM claimed that the chips on 123inkt’s private-label cartridges infringed a HP patent. Allegedly, these chips had too many similarities to HP’s own patented memory chip. 123inkt.nl was of the opinion that HP’s patent was neither new nor innovative and that HP abused its patent to wrongfully obtain a monopoly position on cartridges for HP printers.  On 25 November 2015 the District Court ruled in favour of 123inkt.nl.

HP then appealed this decision. Judgment in this appeal was served on 24 May 2017. The Court of Appeals confirmed that HP’s patent on the chip was null and void, and reiterated that 123inkt did not infringe any patent. The court ruled that the patent is not only on the chip itself, but also applies to the overall operation of the printer. HP disagreed with this judgment and appealed further to the Dutch Supreme Court.

On 19 April 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court upheld the earlier judgement from the Court of Appeal of The Hague in 123inkt’s favour. This means that the HP patent on the chip is indeed invalid and that 123inkt does not infringe any patent.

After four years of litigation – in which HP suffered three consecutive defeats – it is finally concluded that 123inkt.nl may indeed sell its private-label cartridges. The OEM spent more than half a million euros on lawyer’s fees and now also has to pay 123inkt.nl’s legal costs. In 2014, HP also started a second patent case against 123inkt.nl, but this was already withdrawn by HP in 2015.

Gerben Kreuning, Director of 123inkt.nl, said: “I am pleased with this ruling by the Dutch Supreme Court, which definitively makes it clear that what we do is completely legal. Fortunately, we were not deterred by HP’s display of power. When I’m wrong, I have no problem admitting it, but when I’m not wrong and power games are played, I say, “Come on, I’m not afraid of you!” and now we see that Holland’s highest court agrees with that opinion.”

 

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